Counseling Degrees and Programs in Washington

The colleges and universities in Washington offer many counseling programs across all of the major areas of practice, including marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, rehabilitation counseling, school counseling, and substance abuse counseling. Those who are interested in pursuing counseling careers in Washington will need to choose the right school and program as most professional counseling careers require a college or university degree. Washington schools offer many different types of degrees, from associate’s to doctoral degrees; however, most degrees are offered at the master’s level since this is the minimum educational requirement for most types of counseling licensure in the state. Prospective students can choose from traditional, on-campus degrees offered at institutions across the state or one of the many online and hybrid formats that enable students to complete coursework requirements from home.

Quick Facts

  • There are 30 not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities that offer a program in marriage and family therapy, mental health counseling, school counseling, substance abuse counseling, and/or vocational rehabilitation counseling in Washington.1,2
  • Of the counseling schools in Washington, 12 offer an associate’s degree, 1 offers a bachelor’s degree, 13 offer a certificate, and 14 offer a master’s or advanced degree.1,2
  • 6 schools offer a degree in marriage and family therapy.1,2
  • 10 schools offer a degree in mental health counseling.1,2
  • 2 schools offer a degree in vocational rehabilitation counseling.1,2
  • 10 schools offer a degree in school counseling.1,2
  • 19 schools offer a degree in substance abuse counseling.1,2
  • 7 counseling schools ranked in Kiplinger’s Best College Values 2019.3
  • No schools ranked in US News Best Student Counseling Programs 2019.4
  • 1 school ranked in US News Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2019.5
  • Across 8 schools, 15 counseling programs are accredited by CACREP.2

Comparison of Washington Counseling Schools and Programs

In the table below, we have compiled data that enables you to compare the public and not-for-profit four-year colleges and universities in Washington that offer counseling programs in these five main areas: mental health counseling (MH), marriage and family therapy (MFT), vocational rehabilitation counseling (VR), school counseling (SC), and substance abuse counseling (SA). The table indicates the schools that offer programs accredited by the Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP); CACREP-accredited programs are denoted with an asterisk (*). You can also compare schools by program type offered, graduation rate, and net price per year. If you would like more information about becoming a licensed counselor in Washington, have a look at our license requirements page.

School NameCACREP-
MHMFVRSCSAGrad Rate1Net Price1
Antioch University-SeattleYesYes*YesYes0%N.Av.
Bellevue CollegeYes29%$7,477
Central Washington UniversityYesYes*55%$14,647
Centralia CollegeYes39%$8,100
City University of SeattleYesYes*Yes*YesYes0%$20,567
Clark CollegeYes24%$7,104
Eastern Washington UniversityYesYes*Yes*Yes44%$10,751
Edmonds Community CollegeYesYes25%$7,782
Gonzaga UniversityYesYes*Yes*Yes*86%$35,612
Grays Harbor CollegeYes33%$6,496
Heritage UniversityYes31%$9,370
Highline CollegeYesYes32%$8,319
Northwest Indian CollegeYes11%$5,011
Northwest UniversityYes55%$23,117
Olympic CollegeYes24%$5,626
Pacific Lutheran UniversityYes67%$24,174
Peninsula CollegeYes38%$6,402
Pierce College-Fort SteilacoomYes26%$6,348
Saint Martin’s UniversityYes62%$22,578
Seattle Central CollegeYes27%$4,691
Seattle Pacific UniversityYesYesYes*68%$29,546
Seattle UniversityYesYes*Yes*74%$35,577
Skagit Valley CollegeYesYes24%$8,641
Spokane Falls Community CollegeYes22%$6,017
University of Puget SoundYes75%$39,990
Wenatchee Valley CollegeYes31%$7,265
Western Washington UniversityYesYes*Yes*Yes*68%$17,403
Whatcom Community CollegeYes33%$7,355
Whitworth UniversityYesYes79%$28,508
Yakima Valley CollegeYes30%$8,264

Top-Ranked Schools with Counseling Programs in Washington

Kiplinger’s Best College Values 2019

  • Gonzaga University (#62)
  • Whitworth University (#207)
  • University of Puget Sound (#251)
  • Seattle Pacific University (#255)
  • Seattle University (#262)
  • Western Washington University (#279)
  • Pacific Lutheran University (#365)

US News Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs 2019

  • Western Washington University (#20 tie)

Schools in Washington with Counseling Degrees

Traditional Undergraduate Programs

Antioch University-Seattle

Antioch University-Seattle offers a Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Health Counseling and Psychology, comprised of 180 quarter credits, that admits new students four times per year. The program has an applied approach that brings together theories from wellness, counseling, and psychology to prepare students for entry-level careers in the mental health field. One unique aspect of the BA program is that it can be completed in combination with one of the school’s master’s degrees in counseling in a compressed timeframe. The 90-quarter-credit MA in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is accredited by CACREP and has numerous optional concentrations, such as Addiction Counseling. This degree meets state coursework requirements for Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) licensure and may be applied towards substance abuse counseling credentials. The 75-quarter-credit MA in Couple and Family Therapy meets state educational requirements to become a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) in Washington. Additional counseling programs include a Certificate in Addiction Counseling and a Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision degree.

Skagit Valley College

Skagit Valley College offers introductory counseling degrees for students with no prior education in the field. The Associate of Applied Science (AAS) in Human Services is offered with a Generalist emphasis (93 credits) or a Substance Use Disorder Counseling emphasis (99 credits). This degree takes two years of full-time study to complete with practicums scheduled throughout the program to help students apply classroom learning to real-world situations. Upon completion of the program, graduates can look for employment in entry-level mental health or substance abuse counseling roles, pursue licensing as a Chemical Dependency Professional (CDP) in Washington, or transfer to a partnering institution to complete further study. The College also offers a 52-credit Certificate in Substance Use Disorder Counseling that meets state coursework requirements for the CDP credential.

Traditional Graduate Programs

Gonzaga University

Gonzaga University offers prospective counselors three CACREP-accredited counseling degrees. The Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling, the MA in Marriage and Family Counseling, and the MA in School Counseling are comprised of 60 credits each, including a 100-hour practicum, a 600-hour internship, and a final comprehensive exam. Students learn to provide counseling services in diverse settings using multicultural counseling theories. The degrees take at least two years of full-time study to complete with coursework also taken during the summer terms. New students are admitted in the fall and the application process includes an in-person interview with counseling faculty. Graduates will meet the educational requirements in Washington for licensure in their respective areas of practice.

Central Washington University

For aspiring mental health counselors, Central Washington University (CWU), located in Ellensburg, offers a CACREP-accredited Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling that takes two to two and a half years of full-time study to complete. CWU boasts a commitment to small class sizes in the MS program with approximately 10-20 new students admitted each year. The 90-quarter-credit curriculum is influenced by social justice and diversity theories and professional ethics with a required practicum, internship, and capstone project. Students must also engage in counseling research activities by completing a thesis, participating in approved community research projects, or assisting a faculty member in the counseling department. Graduates of the program will meet Washington’s educational requirements to become a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

Western Washington University

Western Washington University (WWU) is home to three graduate counseling degrees accredited by CACREP. The Master of Science (MS) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling is a two-year, full-time degree with an optional thesis. Students learn about a variety of counseling theories and develop counseling skills and techniques through supervised practicum and internship opportunities. The curriculum includes 91 quarter credits, such as Adult Psychopathology and Cross-Cultural Counseling. The Master of Education (M.Ed.) in School Counseling is comprised of 90 quarter credits with an optional thesis. The 90-quarter-credit Master of Arts (MA) in Rehabilitation Counseling teaches students how to provide appropriate counseling services to clients with disabilities through a mix of on-campus and distance learning courses. On-campus classes in the rehabilitation counseling degree are delivered at the Everett University Center on the Everett Community College campus. All degrees meet state coursework requirements for licensure in their respective areas.

Online and Hybrid Programs

City University of Seattle

City University of Seattle (City U) offers several online and hybrid programs in various areas of counseling. The online Graduate Certificate in Chemical Dependency Counseling is a fully-online, self-paced program that provides advanced chemical dependency counseling training to individuals with a master’s degree in counseling or a related field. For those without a counseling degree, the Master of Arts (MA) in Counseling is available through a mix of online and on-campus classes. The degree has numerous specializations including CACREP-accredited Clinical Mental Health Counseling; CACREP-accredited Marriage, Couple, and Family Counseling, which meets Washington’s coursework requirements for Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist (LMFT) licensure; and Addiction Counseling. All of these specializations meet state coursework requirements for the Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC) license. The MA in Counseling also offers a specialization in School Counseling that leads to state certification as a school counselor. City U also offers a hybrid CACREP-accredited Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) in Counselor Education and Supervision.

Eastern Washington University

Individuals interested in addiction counseling careers will find many program options at Eastern Washington University (EWU). A Graduate Certificate in Addiction Studies is available on-campus or online for those working in related fields or for licensed counseling professionals as well as an online Master of Arts (MA) in Behavioral Health focused on addiction, recovery, and counseling treatment. For those just beginning their studies, the Bachelor of Arts (BA) in Addiction Studies is a four-year, on-campus undergraduate degree that introduces students to the foundation theories and skills necessary to become a successful addiction counselor. Students complete a senior capstone project and have the option of completing a practicum to gain supervised experience. These programs meet the educational requirements for various substance abuse counseling credentials in Washington. EWU also offers CACREP-accredited, on-campus Master of Science (MS) degrees in Clinical Mental Health Counseling and School Counseling.

Northwest University

Northwest University is a Christian institution that offers a faith-based Master of Arts (MA) in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. Students can complete all required coursework online and graduate in three years or take online courses in combination with evening or weekend classes at the Kirkland campus. Online students must attend two on-campus residencies during the program and complete the same supervised work experiences as on-campus students. New students are admitted in the fall term. An on-campus version of the program is also offered, which takes as little as two years of full-time study to complete. Both the online and on-campus versions of the degree are designed to meet Washington’s educational requirements for licensure as a Licensed Mental Health Counselor (LMHC).

1. National Center for Education Statistics College Navigator: https://nces.ed.gov/collegenavigator/
2. Council for Accreditation of Counseling and Related Educational Programs (CACREP), Accredited Programs: https://www.cacrep.org/directory/
3. Kiplinger’s Best College Values, 2019: https://www.kiplinger.com/fronts/special-report/college-rankings/index.html
4. US News & World Report Best Student Counseling Programs, 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-education-schools/student-counseling-rankings
5. US News & World Report Best Rehabilitation Counseling Programs, 2019: https://www.usnews.com/best-graduate-schools/top-health-schools/rehabilitation-counseling-rankings